People Increasingly Turning To Dr Google For Mental Health Help

In Employee Benefits, Mental Health, Protection by Paul Connolly

The number of online searches for mental health-related terms has risen dramatically over the past four years, new figures reveal.

According to the analysis from RedArc, more and more people are turning to ‘Dr Google’ for help when they are suffering from poor mental health, a reality that highlights the important role search engines and online content play in supporting individuals who are dealing with such conditions.

In 2015, the number of online searches for the specific term “mental health” was around 27,800 a month. Fast forward to 2019 (just four years) and that number has more than doubled to 69,200.

Furthermore, the number of searches being conducted for 893 other terms that are closely related to mental health has risen by 37% in the same period. Of these, “anxiety”, “depression” and “bipolar” were the three most searched for terms per month during this four year period.

The RedArc data is in line with Google’s own data released earlier this year which showed around 7% of global online searches every day were related to health. That’s the equivalent of 70,000 searches every single minute.

Google’s data also highlights how crucial awareness days are for spreading the word about mental health issues, with searches for mental health-related terms peaking during Mental Health Awareness Week (in May) and Mental Health Day (in October).

Speaking about the findings of the analysis, Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc nurses, said: “Of course not every single mental health-related search is someone needing help or advice but the statistical evidence, as well as our own experience, certainly points towards an increase in demand.”

How employers can help

Because they have contact with their staff on a daily basis, employers are in an excellent position to spot changes in a person’s attitude, behaviour or personality that may indicate they are suffering with poor mental health.

Also, by offering employee benefits that help support mental health, such as group risk schemes, employee assistance programmes and private medical insurance, employers can not only show they care for their employees, but also potentially benefit from less sickness absence.

At Premier Choice we have been actively highlighting the role employers need to take to help their employees with mental health issues. However, we still hear comments along the lines of it costs too much or we don’t have a problem, both of which we can prove are not correct.

The cost of a good income protection scheme can be as little as 0.2% of salary roll and nobody is immune to mental health issues – from the CEO right the way through to the new trainee.

Interestingly, searches increase around the weeks when these issues are publicised, but what about the other 50 weeks of the year? Clearly the problem does not go away and we argue it is a moral duty of an employer to put the right support mechanism in place and not just an App, as we must remember that not everybody is tech savvy. Don’t forget your employees who do not have Internet access or who are afraid of technology – maybe it is tech causing the anxiety, so having an app based solution will not work on all occasions.

I joined Premier Choice Group as a Healthcare & Protection Consultant in 2017, where I now look after the needs of over 200 clients nationwide. Prior to joining the Premier Choice Group, I worked for a large Private Healthcare Insurer, VitalityHealth, and managed SME and Individual clients across the country.